Thanks to portable people meters, a technology borrowed from Star Trek, Arbitron can now measure radio audiences in ever smaller time segments. Martin returned to the North Texas airwaves on July 12, and in the first three days, he brought in some big numbers for KEGL 97.1. In the 18-to-34 demo, during the 6 to 10 a.m. slot, he took the station from No. 15 to No. 3. And in the 25-to-54 demo, he took the station from No. 14 to No. 1. Those are big jumps. But as one radio executive tells me (and I use the term “executive” loosely):
Looking at ratings over the short term (one week or three days of one week) is kind of like watching the stock market for an hour or a day or a week, rather than over a month or a quarter. It’s a very, very small snapshot that may or may not be indicative of what really is happening big picture-wise.
I tuned in for short periods during my drive to work for the first couple of weeks Martin was on the air. To my ear, he came out of the gate haltingly (which was to be expected, given how long he’d been farting around his house and auto repair shop, away from a broadcast studio). The show just didn’t feel like it had the same pace and momentum I remembered. On-air stumbles (looking for the right sounders in the computer, trying to figure out when to go to commercial or traffic or whatever) that once sounded organic and welcome, if not planned, sounded on the new show like they were simply on-air stumbles. But even in the short time he’s been on the air, I’ve noticed improvement.
We’ll see whether that “very, very small snapshot” is indicative or not. There could have been a lot of people like me, just straying from their usual radio appointments out of curiosity to see what the show sounds like. Or, as the billboards say, maybe the king is back.